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Tackling matric is no easy feat, along with the external examiners and the realization that your secondary schooling is coming to an end, it can all be a nerve-wracking time. But along with a good support system, it can be a much smoother journey. We talked to the top student of 2019, Yasmeen Noor De Villiers, who explained what got her through her final year of school and what she plans on doing now with 8 distinctions under her belt, masha’Allah.

How did it feel being first in the grade?

I did not expect it at all. I had been preparing myself for the worst while waiting for my results, so hearing about my distinctions and position made me feel relieved that I didn’t do badly like I’d expected, while also making me extremely happy that I did way better than I was hoping for. My main thought was that I must have met the university requirements, and so was grateful to let go of the nerves from the last few months.

What were the highs and lows of your matric year?
Matric went by very quickly, yet at the same time not quickly enough at times. There was a lot of stress over applications to university, wanting to do well in exams, and having to leave everyone you met behind. And there were a lot of good times such as the matric breakfast and dinner, and getting our jackets which I really liked. Having a different school year layout than normal was interesting, too.

Will you be studying now that you’ve matriculated? If so, what and where will you be studying?

Yes, my studies aren’t over yet. I’ll (insha’Allah) be doing Computer Science at UCT.

What do you do for fun away from academics?
I spend a lot of time (too much, honestly) on my phone and computer. Watching YouTube videos, for example. I don’t really go on social media, though, so I had to hear of any matric memes second hand.

What were your coping mechanisms during the final exams?
I would basically just try and ‘get through’ them. After the difficult Maths paper 1, my expectations went from trying to do great to just passing the year and making it to university. I’d try to push the stress aside to focus on the next paper, though that didn’t work a lot of the time and I’d end up taking days off instead to try and do something fun or relaxing and having to cram in the leftover time. I’d recommend for others to try something else since that doesn’t sound all that good for ‘coping’. Like maybe praying, going for walks, taking naps, or meeting up with friends to ‘study’ (or take a break from studying, banning mention of the exams for that bit of time). Everyone will deal with exams differently, so find out what works for you.

Advice for high school students and 2020 matriculants
For the matriculants, I have two main pieces of advice based on what I experienced. First, try not to stress. It isn’t worth it, and would only make things worse than they could be. It’s hard, yes, I know. But that’s one chapter from LO that you should really try and apply. Second, spread out your work. There’s a lot of time during matric, so it’s best to go over your work bit by bit rather than all at once close to the exams like I did (having already gone through the work would help with the stress point, too).

As for high schoolers in general… Well, before grade 11 is the best time to take it a bit easier and use your time to find out who you are and what you want to do. By grade 11 and 12 it would help motivate you if you knew what you were working for. However, it’s not easy to find that out, so if you can’t just try your best at whatever you’re doing without comparing yourself to others. Everyone has different goals and experiences.
But good luck to everyone! Don’t push off making some good memories while in school

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